We should know soon what the new face of the Boulevard between Broad and 95/64 will be.  According to the TD, the city is hiring a consultant who will search for developers:

Richmond plans to hire a consultant next month to run a nationwide search for developers to transform the park and surrounding area along the Boulevard, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Harry E. Black said yesterday.

The process will hopefully culminate in January when projects and financing will be made known.  The Braves hoped-for new ballpark is on hold until a developer is chosen to remake the whole area.  The proposed aquatics center is also on hold during this process.

Harry Black is promising that this new development will be big.  Huge.  Monumental.

[D]evelopers have suggested to [Black] they would like to build a million square feet of stores — roughly the size of the $153 million White Oak Village development now under construction in eastern Henrico County.

Wilder has also weighed in with his goals (emphasis mine):

Mayor L. Douglas Wilder is seeking a large development for the Boulevard, anchored by sports and entertainment facilities, Black said. That could include a hotel, shopping and other sports facilities, as well as parking for large numbers of cars.

Back in March, I was pontificating on the redevelopment of this corridor, and I wrote:

With all this interest in the under-utilized Boulevard corridor, the question remains whether development of the neighborhood will happen haphazardly; preferences given to any developer, school, or interest-group who has money. Or will the city develop a new master plan for the area, guiding and facilitating the transformation of the neighborhood into a coherent, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use place to live, work and play?

I guess we have an answer- our elected and unelected politicians are going to choose a corporate developer to remake the Boulevard.  I was hoping for another charette, or perhaps a simple town meeting or two.  Maybe that’s still possible, but if this process works in a typical fashion, the public will be responding to, rather than creating, a proposal.

The chosen developer will also be creating proposals for 6th St. Marketplace as well as, enigmatically, “one other part of the city.”

This news is indeed important- for the face of one (or more) of our city neighborhoods is about to change dramatically.  Stay tuned- it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

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